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4/4/22 11:45 AM 8 min read

5 steps to build your philanthropic storytelling

Storytelling is one of the most effective means of content marketing. Philanthropic organizations that use it rely on authentic stories to illustrate social problems, formulate concrete solutions and engage a community around their social mission.

Appealing to the emotions of potential donors, who will recognize themselves in your story, may sound easy. However, in order to reach out emotionally and engage them, you need to do it the right way. Organization, creativity and content deployment are the core elements of a strong and compelling story.

So, how do you go about this famous storytelling? Our philanthropic marketing experts share with you the 5 golden rules to succeed!
Step 1: Know your target audience
Step 2: Determine the goals to be achieved
Step 3: Define the right message to convey and the right tone
Step 4: Develop your brand story and content
Step 5: Deploy your storytelling on communication channels


Step 1

Know your target audience

Your storytelling will be effective if you know your philanthropic personas inside out. Each of them has specific needs, personal motivations and social aspirations that are different from each other. You will not speak to them the same way and your approach will be based on their specific personality and behavior. Beyond their socio-demographic characteristics, identify the following elements:

  • What sense do they give to their existence?
  • What values guide them? Their personal motivations?
  • What are their deepest fears?
  • Who are their favorite influencers?
  • What social causes do they advocate?
  • How do they express themselves and on which media?

By having a complete and clear vision of who your current and future philanthropic personas are, you will be able to clearly understand the approach, principles and tools you need to adopt to capture their attention, create buy-in, stimulate conversion, and ultimately, move them to action.


Step 2

Determine the goals to be achieved

Piloting and deploying a communication strategy without having properly defined the goals to be achieved is like walking in total darkness. Not very practical, you may say?

It is then important to determine what your goals are. Do you want to:
  • Call on businesses to maximize your corporate donations?
  • Get the word out about your new societal brand?
  • Approach future major donors to raise funds on your behalf?
  • Simply collect donations?

Once you have determined your goals, you need to consider the storytelling method.

Which of the following communication approaches will you prefer:
  • The written narrative
  • The audio story
  • The visual story
  • The digital story

These two steps are crucial because they will influence the strategies surrounding your storytelling deployment. You will also avoid the risk of mistakes and maximize your investments in the right places!


Step 3

Define the right message to convey and the right tone

Whether fictional or real, the story you tell should always be based on your organization's purpose and values. This way, you give your donors a clear message and allow them to better identify with you.

Before you start your storytelling narrative, a little introspection is in order. As a team or individually, list the core characteristics and origins of your organization. For example:

  • What social problem do you want to solve?
  • What are your reasons for doing so?
  • Who are the people you accompany?
  • How do you help them? What are your daily actions? Your impact?
  • What are your challenges and issues?
  • How can we help ?
  • What makes you different from others?
  • What are your true human values?

Once you have collected the basic elements that will guide your storytelling, it is time to think about the tone of your message. This is even more important than the story itself: it’s the direct manifestation of your organizational personality. It is through tone, rather than word choice, that you will be able to express and manifest what you want to accomplish.


Will your tone be neutral, dramatic or inspirational? Will it use humor or human empathy?

Beforehand, don't forget to define a lexical field in line with your organizational values. Think outside the box and avoid using jargon or overused terms that can threaten your target's engagement and conversion. Your lexical field will help you clarify your approach as well as your website's and brand's editorial line.


Step 4

Develop your brand story and content

To tell their story, organizations and foundations can choose between two distinct but equally effective approaches:

The traditional narrative framework, which is based on a chronological account
  • Initial situation: introduction of the characters, the social mission, the goals to be achieved, etc.
  • Disruptive element: the element that triggers the consequences or the problem to be solved
  • Incidents: steps to solve the problem
  • Resolution: the solution to the problem (the donors)
  • Final situation: the social impact and the finality of the goals to be achieved..


The actantial narrative framework

In this type of narrative, the actors, their relationships and the influence they have on each other are elements that are put forward. Donors identify more easily because the context and the message disclosed are very close to their reality.

The actantial scheme emphasizes especially:
  • The hero, his quest and his social mission
  • The sender, the one who commands the quest and the social mission
  • The receiver, the one who benefits from the results
  • The opponents, those who stand in the way of the hero
  • The helpers, those who assist him in his social mission

Note that each character in your story must have a specific role, regardless of its nature. The hero of your storytelling can be a person or a social cause to promote.


Step 5

Deploy your storytelling on communication channels

Your target is alive and not in one place. Some of your personas get their information from traditional television, while others will prefer social media or streaming platforms.


Your storytelling must be multi-channel and deployed on different communication channels in order to optimize its effectiveness and the profitability of your message. Whether it's online, in your newsletter, on your website, on television or on the radio, your multiplatform presence will allow you to reach a maximum number of people, at the right time.

Don't be afraid to break convention and opt for creative formats that are out of the ordinary. Podcasts are popular and digital videos are reaching the new generation of donors. It's a simple way to propel your values, humanize your organization and establish your credibility with target audiences!

Using storytelling is part of a global marketing and communication strategy. By sharing the right stories, the right way, with multiple clearly defined targets, you will be able to appeal to and engage a community around your mission.

Marketing specialists are available to assist you in developing your philanthropic storytelling!



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